Oct. 12th, 2011

I'm somewhat intrigued, and somewhat disturbed, by this Wall Street Journal article about trendy chefs embracing historical recipes as their next big thing.

Having been involved in quite a bit of amateur reconstruction of historical cuisine, I'm interested in what these chefs may produce. Most of them have better resources for obtaining exotic ingredients, and better kitchen facilities, than most of our medieval cookery, so in principle they have some advantages... and yet so many of their comments seem like the same naïve things I've heard said by others new to medieval cooking that I am a bit dubious about what they'll produce. Several of them comment about how of course lots of things need to be updated in these quaint old recipes, or how they've substituted pigs and rabbits for songbirds, which no one would want to eat of course. The worst, though, is this comment - admittedly about 19th century food rather than medieval: '"Cooking was very bland back then," says Robyn Stern, culinary research assistant for Think Food Group. [...] "Meats were either roasted or boiled, and a lot of the same spices were repeated."'

I also cannot help but chuckle at the chef in Evanston doing a 10-course menu from Apicius - if we'd charged $140 when we did that I don't think we would have gotten many takers.



November 2011

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